LIMA — During the Lima school board meeting Thursday at Lima Senior High School, the board approved a recommendation to eliminate the Social Service Specialist position within the district. Five people currently hold this position for Lima schools. However, while news of the elimination of a school position is often due to a lack of funds within a school district, this case is different.
“The position will be transitioned into what is called a School Social Worker,” Lima superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “The Ohio Department of Education requires the person in that position to become fully licensed as a school social worker.”
Ackerman noted that this licensure is markedly different from the more familiar position of licensed social worker.
“Even if someone is a licensed social worker, they still have to take additional coursework to become a school social worker,” Ackerman said. “There are a lot more mandates on them.”
Part of that distinction is found in the college coursework required to obtain a license as a school social worker. For those seeking that certification, however, there are ways to fulfill their academic requirements while still retaining their position.
“Some of our people are social workers will have to go back to take additional coursework to become school social workers,” Ackerman said. “You can get a temporary license as long as you take so much coursework by the end of the next year. You can renew that temporary license as many times as you need to until you become fully certified.”
Such will be the case for a portion of the current social service specialists in the district.
“Three of those people have gone out and done extensive research and chosen universities,” Ackerman said. “Each university varies on its requirements depending on what they already have on their transcripts, but I think it will take a little bit of time, at least a year.”
The other two, whose names were not revealed, are currently set to be laid off, due to state requirements.
“You have to have some coursework in place in order to get that first temporary license, so if there are people who don’t have that coursework, they can’t receive it,” Ackerman said. “There probably will be two people out of the five who will be laid off because of the lack of certification. We will then have to hire two new workers.”
Ackerman also did not wish to reveal which specialists would be laid off in the hope that circumstances would change enough to where they could become certified temporarily as a school social worker.
“You never know. They could come back and say that they spent the whole summer in school and they are able to be licensed,” she said.
Requiring employees to take on additional work to maintain their positions is not the course of action Ackerman and the board would have preferred, but they are constrained to put the state’s new policy into action.
“We didn’t make the rules,” Ackerman said. “We just have to follow them.”